“May your table be graced with lovely women and good men. May you drink well enough to drown the envy of youth in the satisfactions of maturity. May your men wear their weight with pride, secure in the knowledge that they have at last become considerable. May they rejoice that they will never again be taken for callow, black-haired boys. And your women? Ah! Women are like cheese strudels. When first baked, they are crisp and fresh on the outside, but the filling is unsettled and indigestible; in age, the crust may not be so lovely, but the filling comes at last into its own. May you relish them indeed. May we all sit long enough for reserve to give way to ribaldry and for gallantry to grow upon us. May there be singing at our table before the night is done, and old, broad jokes to fling at the stars and tell them we are men.

We are great, my friend; we shall not be saved for trampling that greatness under foot. Ecce tu pulcher es, dilecte mi, et decorus. Lectulus noster floridus. Tigna domorum nostrarum cedrina, laquearia nostra cypressina. Ecce iste venit, saliens in montibus, transilens colles. Come then; leap upon these mountains, skip upon these hills and heights of earth. The road to Heaven does not run from the world but through it. The longest Session of all is no discontinuation of these sessions here, but a lifting of them all by priestly love. It is a place for men, not ghosts—for the risen gorgeousness of the New Earth and for the glorious earthiness of the True Jerusalem.

Eat well then. Between our love and His Priesthood, He makes all things new. Our Last Home will be home indeed.”

—Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb, 180-1.

The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, 2014 – Genesis 29:15-28; Psalm 105:1-11, 45b; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

NB: I am greatly indebted to Fr. Robert Farrar Capon and his work on the parables of Jesus, for which I am deeply grateful.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” (Matthew 13:47-50).

There was no shortage of material from which to preach this week. Our gospel reading alone contains no less than five distinct parables about the kingdom. Nevertheless, I’ve chosen to preach mostly on this final parable of the net, because it is the last of the kingdom parables in Matthew’s gospel which Catherine has been preaching on these last two weeks. As such, it serves in many ways to sum up, if you will, the kingdom parables that precede it — the sower, the weeds and the wheat, the mustard seed, the yeast, and so on.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea.” This isn’t just any kind of net, though. No this net, this is a particular kind of net. In fact, this is the only place in the New Testament that this particular Greek word (sagēnē) shows up and it describes a dragnet — one that reaches to the very bottom and, as it is dragged through the water, indiscriminately takes everything in its path.

As the dragnet gathers up everything in its path so too the kingdom of heaven indiscriminately gathers up everything in its path.

Now, you and I picture the net containing fish and the fish being representative of people but, in fact, the word “fish” does not actually occur here. We naturally supply it and perhaps that is just what Jesus had in mind but since it is not present maybe something can be made of its absence. Indeed, the net of the kingdom touches everything in the world — not just souls, but bodies; not just people, but all things. Not only is the whole human race gathered into the kingdom, the entire physical order of the world, the whole cosmos, is drawn into the kingdom by the mystery of the Word — “and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things,” (Colossians 1:20). Just as the net gathers all things it meets in the sea and brings them to shore so too the kingdom gathers home to God everything in the world: “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all,” (1 Corinthians 15:28). The redeemed order is not the created order forsaken; it is the created order, all of it, raised and glorified (Capon).

From this parable we can already begin to see revealed two things about the kingdom, what we might call it’s catholicity and its actual working. The parables of the yeast and the mustard seed enlighten here. Regarding catholicity, just as all things are caught up into the net, so too the whole loaf has been leavened. The hiding of the yeast in the dough is both more mysterious and more pervasive than any of the hidings Jesus has used thus far to illustrate the kingdom. For example, seeds, if you are willing, can be found and dug up again. Not so with yeast.

Just as the yeast, once it is in the dough, is so intimate a part of the lump as to be indistinguishable from it, undiscoverable in it, and irretrievable out of it, so is the kingdom in this world (Capon). The Word, who is the yeast has left not one scrap of this lump of a world unleavened.

On the actual working of the kingdom, just as the net does its job and brings all that it has gathered to the shore so too the small mustard seed grows up into the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree. This parable reveals the wonderful discrepancy between the hiddenness of the kingdom at its sowing and the lush manifestation of it in its final successful fruition. Notice that in the parable of the mustard seed there is no element of a response, either hostile or receptive, lest we think the kingdom might need our cooperation in order to come out right. Like the mustard seed and the net, the kingdom of heaven will accomplish all that it will accomplish.

Alright, back to the net. If the kingdom is like the net, gathering every kind and rejecting nothing, then the church as a sacrament of the kingdom — that is, a visible sign of a presently invisible mystery — should avoid the temptation to act like a sport fisherman who is only interested in this or that particular prize fish. Specifically, the church should not get itself into the habit of rejecting as junk the human equivalents of the old boots, bottles, and beer cans that such a dragnet would inevitably dredge up (Capon). At the very least, we should definitely not attempt, in this world, to do the kind of sorting out that the kingdom quite clearly refuses to do until the next. But alas, excommunication has been a favourite past-time of the church since the very beginning. In the words of Capon, “the practice of tossing out rotten types while the net is still in the water has been almost everybody’s idea of a terrific way to further the kingdom — everybody’s, that is, except Jesus’”. The church, not least the Anglican church, would do well to keep this in mind especially in light of our present and ongoing struggles within the Communion. To be sure, a sorting, a day of judgement, is quite clearly on the way, but it does not take place before then, not least by our hands.

I was speaking with someone just the other day who had no real issue with division in the church because some matters were simply worth dividing over. “What about reform?” this person might ask. Well, like everything else about the kingdom, reform comes not when we decide to enforce it but only when God brings it about in his own good time. If he is willing to wait for it, why should the church be in such a rush (Capon)?

Of course, Jesus does indeed get around to the subject of judgement. In the parable we hear: “when [the net] was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.” However, the text does not suggest that the “good” and “bad” are so judged based on theirown inherent goodness or badness. In fact, “good” and “bad” are rather confusing translations. The word translated “good” (kalos) has overtones of “beautiful,” “fine,” or “fair” and as such is not as narrowly moralistic as the other common Greek word for “good” (agathos). The distinction is blunt rather than sharp, but the distinction is nevertheless there. The word translated “bad” (sapros) means, “rotten, putrid, corrupt, worthless, useless.” Thus, the criterion is not the innate goodness or badness of the fish themselves, but their acceptability to the fisherman — whatever serves the fisherman’s purpose is kept; whatever does not is tossed out.

There is always the possibility, note, that some of the damnedest things might be saved: old rusty anchors and hunks of driftwood might just make the cut if somebody took a shine to them. Anyone who is married to a garage-saler knows this well — one person’s junk is another person’s treasure, sort of.

The net contains many things, but there is nothing, however weak and feeble in and of itself, that absolutely has to be gotten rid of. Whatever sorting is done depends entirely on the the disposition of the sorters — goodness is in the eye of the Beholder (Capon).

And just as the fishermen, not the fish, set the standard for the day of judgement on the beach so it is the King of the kingdom who sets the standard for the Last Day of the world. Note first that this occurs after the general resurrection so that every last person who arrives at it arrives in the power of Jesus’ reconciliation, that is his death and resurrection: “The only sentence to be pronounced as far as the Judge himself is concerned is a sentence to life, and life abundant,” (Capon).

No one has to accept that acceptance, of course, but nobody goes to hell because they had a bad track record, at least not any more than anyone goes to heaven because they had a good one. The point is that we are not judged based on our performance — if that were the case, who could stand? Rather, we are judged by what Jesus has accomplished on the cross for us, when he pronounced an ultimately authoritative “good” (kala) over the whole wide world that he has caught in the net of his reconciliation. Only those who would rather argue with that gracious word are pronounced “bad” (sapra). Or as Capon put it:

“Both heaven and hell are populated entirely and only by forgiven sinners. Hell is just a courtesy for those who insist they want no part of forgiveness.”

And if on the cross King Jesus has reconciled every last sinner to himself should the church — the sign to the world of this kingdom forgiveness — not pronounce this same “good” (kala) over sinners? Everybody is somebody for whom Christ died. What a catastrophic misrepresentation then when the church chases questionable types from its midst. If indeed all people and all things have been caught up in this pervasive net then may the church resemble less a refined group of folks who are happily married and never get drunk and just be what we really are, “a random sampling of the broken, sinful, half-cocked world that God in Christ loves, dampened by the waters of baptism but in no way necessarily turned into perfect peaches by them,” (Capon). And if this reality should at times tempt us to despair, may we be patient and trust knowing that the kingdom is, and has never not been, at work in the world and in us and that its successful fruition does not depend on our cooperation — though let us hear the call to come and repent and really participate in the work of the kingdom as we really are. Let the Pharisees take care of whatever judging they want to, but let the church stay a million miles away. But no matter what we do — like the seed, the yeast, and the net — the kingdom works anyway, and that’s something to be joyful about. Thanks be to God.

Sermon was preached at St. Matthew’s Riverdale on the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, July 27th, 2014.

The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Year A, 2014 – Ezekiel 34:11-16; Psalm 87; 2 Timothy 4:1-8; John 21:15-19

When you are confronted with the risen and living Jesus your life changes forever, one way or another. Both St. Peter and St. Paul who we remember today knew this well and were martyred — that is, killed for their faith in Jesus — in Rome. It is said of St. Peter that he was crucified, upside down. St. Paul? Beheaded. How do the deaths of these two saints many years ago have anything to do with our life here today?

What was it that made Peter and Paul apostles? It wasn’t simply that they knew and walked with Jesus during his earthly ministry — Paul didn’t, after all. It was rather, I think, that they both met the risen Jesus and were given by him a task to do. This is what apostle means — messenger, or sent one.

How did they come to meet the risen Jesus? Did they simply know where to find him? No, the Bible is clear in both cases, and this is true as a general rule: the risen Jesus revealed himself to them, he pulled back the veil, as it were, opening their eyes to know and love him. Paul, though he was named Saul then, was knocked off his horse and blinded as he rode to Damascus: “suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” (Acts 9:3-5). The same was true of Peter. Immediately prior to our gospel reading this morning the risen Jesus stood on the beach and called out to the disciples as they were fishing. Once they saw him they came rushing onto the beach where Jesus had breakfast waiting. But they saw him, John tells us, because the risen Jesus “showed himself” to them (21:1, 14). Perhaps the risen and living Jesus has confronted you in some way and you have come to know and love him in return and that’s why you’re here this morning. Perhaps you’re here because you hope and want to meet the risen Jesus and you feel that this is a place where that’s likely to happen? Perhaps you don’t know why you’re here this morning. Whatever the case, the resurrected Jesus has promised to be here in our midst, and he is.

Paul and Peter were changed as a result of this meeting. Their whole lives were taken up into Jesus’ own life and they were given a task to do. See Peter in our gospel reading from this morning. So, Jesus and the disciples finish eating breakfast and Jesus pulls Peter aside. I imagine them going for a walk down the shore while the rest of the disciples stayed by the fire eating and telling rude jokes (they were fishermen, after all). Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” and three times Peter responds, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Of course, Peter’s threefold profession of love for Jesus corresponds to his threefold denial of him earlier in the gospel. And so, by way of forgiveness Jesus gives Peter a job to do. When Peter professes his love Jesus doesn’t say, “Well, good then!” He says, “Well, then: feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.” Each time Peter answers the question he earns, not a pat on the back, but a command, a fresh challenge, a new commission — time to learn how to be a shepherd.

This is what makes both St. Peter and St. Paul apostles: they met the risen Jesus and he gave them a job to do, a job which he empowered them to carry out. This is the very thing that runs through the heart of the church still: the risen Jesus has revealed himself to us in our midst and as a result our whole lives have been swept up into the life of Jesus, in a sort of divine confiscation, and we’ve been sent on a mission.

Now it’s worth noting that Jesus says to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Not only does Jesus trust Peter to get back to work after his earlier denial of him — which, by the way, ought to be a great encouragement to us all in light of the many and varied ways in which we too deny Jesus — but here Jesus shares his own work, his own ministry with Peter. Jesus entrusts his sheep to Peter just as the Father had entrusted them to him, and thereby gave Peter a share in his own authority. It is, after all, Jesus who is the Good Shepherd (John 10). It is Jesus who in Ezekiel says: “I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out…I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered…I will gather them and bring them into their own land; and I will feed them…I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down…I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak.” This is Jesus’ doing. He knows his sheep and they know him and he has given his life for them. Yet a little earlier in John’s gospel the risen Jesus gives his disciples a specific commission: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” (20:21).

This is the secret of all Christian ministry, yours and mine, lay and ordained, full-time or part-time — whether you sit quietly and pray for your neighbours or whether you’re the Archbishop of Canterbury — all ministry is primarily a participation in Christ’s own ministry, all our doing is rooted in and taken up into Christ’s own doing, all our work flows forth from our being sent by Jesus in the same way that the Father sent the Son.

It’s not our ministry, it’s Christ’s, though we really do have a part to play in it and it’s really us who play that part.

This was true for Peter and Paul and it is true for all of us as well. In Jesus we are forgiven and healed and given new work to do precisely as a sign that we are forgiven and that Jesus lives and reigns and we with him. I would imagine that this would change everything we do: from knit night, to neighbourhood BBQs, from gathering for prayer, to sharing a meal with a neighbour.

The work that we have been given to do, because it is a participation in Jesus’s ongoing ministry, is the same work that Peter and Paul were given to do, albeit in a different setting and thus perhaps with some different nuances. Thus, Paul’s exhortations and warnings to Timothy from this morning’s reading may serve us well. If the work that we have been given to do begins, as Paul said earlier to Timothy, with, “the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life,” (2 Timothy 1:10) — that is, the work we are given to do flows out of our encountering the risen and living Jesus — then the end to which our work is headed is the second appearing of Christ Jesus when his kingdom will finally and fully be established and he will judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). Here in his letter to Timothy, Paul assumes that Christ is already present with Christians but that we still await his appearance, when he will come as judge, to set the world right. The risen Jesus has given us work to do, a share in his own ministry, and because Jesus will appear again as judge it is important to get on with the work.

It is in light of all of this that Paul urges Timothy to “proclaim the message” or “announce the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). This of course is very closely related to the Scriptures — which for Timothy would have been the Old Testament, but for us today includes the New Testament as well, that apostolic teaching that has been received and handed on for the last 2,000 years — but it refers particularly to the Christian message, the announcement that Jesus is Lord, which is itself rooted in the Old Testament prophets, and focused on telling what happened to Jesus, hammering home the point that, through his resurrection and ascension, he is now installed as King and Lord (N.T. Wright).

Furthermore, like the parable of the sower who sows the seed, that is the word, regardless of what sort of ground it lands on, Timothy must continue in this work whether the moment seems “favourable or unfavourable”. Is there a greater temptation for the church than the temptation to give up preaching and teaching the gospel when the time seems unfavourable?

In good Modern democratic societies such as ours, societies that are exclusively inclusive and intolerantly tolerant, the proclamation that “Jesus is Lord” is rather unfashionable if not entirely jarring and subversive. Thus, in a climate such as ours it may well be tempting for the church to bend the word of truth to suit our own expectations — how can we fill these pews? — or the expectations of others — people just don’t like to hear that stuff today!

“For the time is coming,” says Paul, “when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.”

Strong words. Strong words aimed first at those in the church. Paul isn’t lamenting those outside of the church who have “itching ears” but those inside the church who neglect and even reject the “sound doctrine” or “healthy teaching” that the likes of Peter and Paul have handed on to us in Holy Scripture, and died for, and have instead “accumulated for themselves teachers to suit their own desires.” Like people being instructed by their doctors to follow a particular diet, they will discover that half of their favourite foods aren’t on it, and so will look for different doctors who will advise them to eat and drink what they like (N.T. Wright). Suiting their message to match the desires of the people, this is what false teachers do.

In contrast to this, Timothy is to persevere.

The best thing that the church can do for herself and for the world is to faithfully and persistently proclaim and embody the faith once received.

Keep on, keepin’ on, as it were. Whether the time is favourable or unfavourable. Whether the message is received or rejected — sow the seed. Whether we are embraced or excluded — proclaim the message. Both Paul and Peter were killed, remember. They knew a thing or two about unfavourable conditions. This is not an excuse to be aggressive or pushy — it is to be done with the “utmost patience” after all. Thus, Timothy is expected to be “sober” — the awareness and capacity for clear judgement. How does the church stay sober? Prayer and mutual submission, one to another, are two things that come to mind.

The whole church is called to participate in the work and mission of the risen and living Christ Jesus, as St. Peter and St. Paul were called. Have you been baptized into Christ? You are a new creature and have been outfitted as a co-worker in the kingdom of God right here on earth. Let us go on announcing Jesus as Lord. What is required of us is not success — as the world regards success — but loyalty and perseverance. And should the church in the West survive as a “tiny and despised community”, may it be so and “let her attend to the authenticity of her own life: Let her cultivate Eucharist and its associated practices of mutual care, with the world viewing this strange body. God may bless such a witness,” (Robert Jenson).Let’s get on with it, in the power of the Holy Spirit, who continues to be poured out upon the followers of Jesus to this day so that, in our friendship with him, we might participate here-and-now in the life of God Himself, and invite others to taste and see. Amen.

 
Sermon was preached at St. Matthew’s Riverdale on the Third Sunday after Pentecost, June 29th, 2014.

Easter 5A, 2014 – Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14

“Believe in God, believe also in me.”

I speak to you in the name of the Living God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Being a Christian oughta scare the [fill in the blank] out of us. I figure that at least one of the reasons why you and I are not so scared has to do with how we hear that short portion of John’s gospel I just said a moment ago before praying: “Believe in God, believe also in me.” Believe. We know already that this is central to the whole purpose for John having written down his account of the gospel for he tells us as much (20:31). But what isbelief and why for so many of us does it serve rather to make us comfortable and content?

There are far too many Christians who would see no problem making the following statement: “I believe Jesus is Lord…but that’s just my personal opinion,” (Stanley Hauerwas). What produces this? How are Christians so formed? It has to do with the good liberal democratic distinction between private life—where faith resides—and public life. As such, “belief” names that which we hold to be true privately, intellectually, but has no real bearing on our public lives. In other words, you can come to church and believe all of these nice things but once you walk out those doors don’t you dare let those beliefs follow you out into your families and jobs and neighbourhoods. This tension was illustrated this week when the Catholic Archbishop of Toronto Thomas Cardinal Collins wrote a letter to Justin Trudeau asking him to reconsider his recent edict that any candidate with the Liberal Party of Canada had to be publicly pro-choice with respect to abortion: Your “political authority is not limitless,” wrote Collins.[1] In Trudeau’s response he cited his father Pierre as his example, “who had deeply, deeply held personal views that were informed by the fact that he went to church every Sunday, read the Bible regularly to us, and raised us very, very religious, very Catholic.”[2] And so it is, you see, in liberal democratic societies such as ours faith and religious belief is encouraged so long as it remains a private matter, or in Trudeau’s words, “deeply personal”.

Yet, this whole way of thinking about and practicing one’s faith is utterly foreign to the gospel, as if Jesus were simply interested in changing our opinion about who he is as opposed to transforming our entire life.

As a Christian I don’t have a private life, nor do you—it’s all public. That Jesus is Lord is going to make our lives quite dysfunctional. Believing that God was in Christ reconciling the world is crazy, and it’ll make your life, our life, really weird (Hauerwas).

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” Thus, in light of what I’ve said already, we should substitute the word “trust” for “believe”: “Trust in God, trust also in me.” This gets more to the heart of what Jesus is saying, I think. Jesus has been with his disciples but the time has come for him to go away and they are understandably anxious about where he is going and whether they will be able to follow him. The world may appear to have gone mad, but the disciples must continue to trust that God is in control.

Last week we heard Jesus say, “I am the gate,” (John 10:7-9). This week we get a glimpse of what lies on the other side of the gate once we enter through it: “I am the way.” That is to say, we are not yet where we are going, we are pilgrims, exiles, nomads. God in Christ took on flesh and entered into the space and time in which we live our daily lives. He has now gone on ahead of us to prepare a place but the only way to get there is to follow the Way himself and to do so in and through the space and time that make up our daily life: “For your name’s sake lead me and guide me,” says the Psalmist (31:3). Consider also the two images which we heard St. Peter use this morning: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation,” and again, “let yourselves be built into a spiritual house.” Leading, guiding, growing, being built. All of this to say that faith in the risen Jesus is not a finish line, but is rather the beginning of a long and sometimes arduous, albeit joyous, journey of spiritual formation. But along the way our eyes will be opened to see the risen Jesus right there beside us as we saw a few weeks ago with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

And this is risky, it is adventurous because it means the giving up of our whole lives over to Jesus. As the Psalmist said, “My times are in your hand,” (31:15). Or as Peter wrote, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people,” (2:10). You are not your own, you are God’s people and yourwhole life is in his hand. This is risky, indeed. For Stephen, it was something that he was willing to die for. In the face of his own impending death there is only one thing that is left for Stephen to do…trust: “While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” (Acts 7:59). The words of Jesus from the cross, which are themselves taken from the Psalm we sang together this morning: “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God,” (31:5). You can see how the formation of Christians who are willing to die might pose a problem for liberal democratic societies wherein faith is encouraged so long as it remains a private matter.

So, what of this public faith that leaves no corner of our lives or world unturned? Let us hear the words of Jesus: “Very truly, I tell you, the one who trusts in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these,” (14:12). That is to say that the Christian faith is such that it is literally practiced. Peter too has something to say here: not only are we built into the temple of God, but we are the workers of the temple as well, “a holy priesthood…offer[ing] spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

The work that the church is called to do in the world through Jesus Christ is not work reserved for clergy. You who can hear my voice this morning, have you received the risen Christ? You then, as a member of the church of God, are a royal priesthood. There is work for us to do. What is that work? The primary work of the church, our first responsibility, is the truthful worship of the one true God. Indeed, the word ‘liturgy’ means, “the work of the people.”

Worship is work, and it is radical work at that, for if Jesus is enthroned, all else is dethroned.

In this primary work of worship our whole life is formed and out of it flows a life that has been made one with Jesus and as such gets to work in our families, jobs, neighbourhoods and in the world. And this whole life, our whole common life right here in Riverdale, and the whole life of the church throughout space and time exists so that the mighty acts of the Living God who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light might be proclaimed and embodied for the whole wide world to hear and see (1 Peter 2:9). That the gospel is both proclaimed and embodied is a point not to be missed. We can’t talk about what it means to believe, to worship Jesus, apart from the work of the community that the gospel forms. That is to say, the proclamation of the gospel always forms a community around the living Jesus which embodies the gospel in it’s very life.

This is why training is at the heart of Christianity. Prayer is training; Singing is training; tithing is training; reading the Bible is training; caring for the poor among us is training; being patient with one another is training. To be followers of the Way, is to be engaged in an ongoing process of learning and being trained to do the work that is inseparable from the training. And in the process of the training Jesus transforms us in ways that we don’t even notice in order to do the work that needs to be done (Hauerwas). Of course, I think we need to believe stuff—I like to think that I’m orthodox in my own belief. The problem is that ‘belief’ as an indicator of what makes one a Christian tends to separate the language of the faith from the work of the faith. The point is, Christianity is performative.

A few months back I told someone that I wanted to read more Shakespeare this year. He discouraged me from doing so by suggesting that Shakespeare was meant to be performed, not read. Too often people, including Christians, think that Christianity is like the text of Hamlet, rather than the actual production of Hamlet. It has to be performed in order to understand what it is. Unfortunately, Christians so often want to make Christianity a text rather than a performance.

As we journey along with the risen Jesus and follow after him to the place where he is going, will we let ourselves be built into a spiritual house? Will we embrace our calling as a holy priesthood? Are we willing to be trained, and to grow up from infancy into spiritual maturity in Christ? This will demand nothing less than your whole life—you’ll have no claim over yourself, your family, and your stuff anymore. It’s an adventure—and this is precisely why we need to trust the God who has come to us in Jesus. “Trust in God, trust also in me.”

Are we willing to follow Jesus when it puts us in the terribly vulnerable position of being able to do nothing other than trust? This is the Christian faith. This is why we need to rush together on Sunday mornings, not only to worship but to gather for protection: “In you, O LORD, I seek refuge…Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me,” (Psalm 31).

But, if Jesus so grabs hold of us, scary as that may be, we may just find that we are made participants in the ongoing history of God’s care of the world through the promises made to the people of Israel whom, in Christ, we have been grafted into. And through our participation in this ongoing history our whole life will be taken up into the life of Jesus and we will be God’s witness in the world that he has not abandoned the world to sin.

Let us pray along with St. Ambrose: Lord Jesus, we do follow you, but we can come only at your bidding. No one can make the ascent without you, for you are our way, our truth, our life, our strength, our confidence, our reward. Be the way that receives us, the truth that strengthens us, the life that invigorates us. Amen.

[1]http://www.archtoronto.org/events_news/pdf/justintrudeaumay1414.pdf
[2]http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Trudeau+defends+abortion+stance+cites+father+protection+rights/9843139/story.html

Sermon was preached at St. Matthew’s Riverdale on the fifth Sunday in Easter, May 18th, 2014.

Some of you may be interested to know that I am now editing and blogging over at our church blog, Jesus & Taxes (<— click to visit!).

What’s in a name? In the name of this blog, a few things.

Jesus & Taxes.

There is a nod, to be sure, towards the well known quotation, “but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, we might add that Jesus is certain, and that because Jesus is certain the certainty of death is transformed. Death is no longer the enemy it once was, for Christ trampled down death by his death so that for those of us who are in Christ there is life in death. This is the mystery of Christ.

There is another reason for the name Jesus & Taxes that cuts closer to home, though. We are St. Matthew’s Riverdale. Now, Matthew, as perhaps you may know was not always a saint. Indeed, Matthew (or, Levi) used to be a tax-collector. That is, he collected taxes (and then some) for the Roman Empire. The scandal here is that Matthew was a Jew. A Jew, oppressing and taking money from his own people to give to the Romans, the very people that were occupying the land in which the Jews lived. He was working for the enemy. Yeah. So, maybe you can see why “tax-collectors” were lumped in with “sinners” and perhaps get a sense of why the religious leaders were so bothered when Jesus went to eat at this man’s home: “When the scribes and the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax-collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?'” (Mark 2:16).

Now, Matthew left his tax-collecting ways to follow Jesus after Jesus had approached him at his place of work and called him to leave everything to go on an adventure (Mark 2:13-14). This is the man that our little church is named after and that’s fantastic because we’re trying to be like Matthew in our day-to-day lives right here in Riverdale.

Jesus & Taxes. Sometimes you have to leave what you’re familiar with to follow Jesus, like Matthew did. And that’s risky. I’ll leave you with these thoughts:

1) Jesus saw Matthew. In the same way, Jesus sees me and he sees you. We are in his view. Jesus was engaged in something very personal with Matthew to the point that he entered into his home and ate with him. In the same way, Jesus in interested in you and I personally (though not privately, that’s another blog post!). We try to live our lives together in Riverdale knowing that we are seen by Jesus so that we ourselves might see the risen and living Jesus here in our midst.

2) Jesus calls Matthew to follow him and, here’s the crazy part, Matthew did! The church is a community of followers, a nomadic community, a community on-the-move. The uncertainty involved in this can be uncomfortable and unsettling. But any adventure worth having involves risk. Following Jesus is risky, it may well involve leaving some things behind, but we can trust Jesus who is certain in the midst of uncertainty. We know that Jesus is on the move in Riverdale and he has called us to follow him right here in this place. We want to extend that invitation to you also! Would you join in with us as we follow in the way of Jesus?

3) Jesus freely associates with “sinners” to the point where he is numbered among them. Jesus didn’t come for those who are well, he came for the sick. Maybe you’ve experienced the weight of this in your own life. You know what it is like to experience brokenness and death. You’ve been hurt and you’ve hurt others. Jesus comes into the middle of this mess as the only one who can set things right. And he does. Our lives are messy and Jesus calls us to follow him before we have time to clean ourselves up. Whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, Jesus welcomes you and wants to dine with you. Will you come to the table?

There you have it, some of our hopes for this blog. We’ll be posting content here at least twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and we’d love for you to join in on the discussion!

Grace and peace.

Crucifixion.andreas.pavias

Good Friday, 2014 – Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10:16-25; John 18:1-19:42

“When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30

Living God, we thank you that in your Son Christ Jesus you accomplished for us what we could not accomplish on our own. Thank you that our whole lives are taken up into the sacrificial offering of your Son’s own life on the cross, and that in his death, we live. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

As he hung there on the cross, that torturous Roman instrument of death, the weight of his body bearing down on those nails that pierced his hands and feet, beaten and bloodied, he inhaled and with his final breath said, “It is finished.” I tell you, this small phrase is so vast and so deep that its treasures will never be exhausted. More was said in this one breath than has been said since and could ever be said. For in this phrase we get a glimpse of the glorious beauty of the gospel, that is, of God’s sacrificial and holy love for the whole wide world, and for you and I. Behold, Christ Jesus nailed to the cross! Behold the servant of the Lord in all his glory, exalted and lifted up (Is. 52:13)! Hear the broken cry of victory from his lips: “It is finished.”

Here we are, at the end of the long journey of Lent that culminates in this most Holy of weeks. This whole journey has been a set-up. That is John, the author of the gospel, has set us up to see what he has seen and thus, like him, to be witnesses equipped and ready to testify to the truth before the world. And that truth is not a concept or an idea, not a bumper sticker or an argument, that truth is Jesus the Christ, the one who at the end of our gospel reading, “bowed his head and gave up his spirit,” and died. Behold the Light! The Life! The Truth!

It is imperative that we hear these final words of Jesus from the cross in light of the very first words of John’s gospel: “In the beginning,” says John, “was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it,” (1:1-5). Even now – even here on the cross – the darkness did not overcome it.

During the whole fiasco of a trial that immediately preceded Jesus’ death, that “perversion of justice” (Isaiah 53:8) by which the Son of man was rejected by man, the Roman governor Pilate had Jesus flogged, dressed up like a king though his crown was made of thorns, mocked him, and struck him on the face (19:1-3). Pilate then brought him out in front of the crowds (“to let you know that I find no case against him,” v4), stood him there, and proclaimed, “Behold the man!” (v5). The man. Now, if we’re hearing all of this in light of, “In the beginning…” then we can’t not think of the man that was in the beginning, Adam. Indeed, some of the earliest Christians identified the place of Jesus’ crucifixion with the burial place of Adam. Thus, portrayals of the crucifixion quite often feature a skull at the base of the cross.

The new Adam, Jesus, brings salvation to the old Adam through his sacrificial love poured out on the cross.

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth,” (Genesis 1:26). God makes man (the Hebrew word there is adam from which we get Adam) and sets them in the garden. Why? To take it, all of it, and offer it back to God in praise and thanksgiving. That is, Adam was a priest and the whole earth was his offering. The gift received in love was to be offered back in reciprocal love, the glorious unity of God and man. Only, that didn’t happen. The sin of the first Adam, the old Adam, was to reject the giver of the gift, it was to take the gift and seek it for itself, quite apart from the giver. No giving thanks. No offering it back. No union of love. But this gift was nothing less than the very life of man, the rejection of which meant death. The words that we opened with this morning describe the sin of Adam: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way.” The union between God and man, the union of sacrificial love, was up-ended and exchanged for the dis-union of enmity and strife. The old Adam was unable to finish the priestly work that he was made to do and thus unable to grow up into and attain to that perfect unity of sacrificial love, of giving and receiving, of laying down ones will for the will of the other.

And so, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “Sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned,” (5:12). The prideful self-assertion of the old Adam’s will over the will of the God who loved him and who he was made to love in return was a cancer that left no corner of creation untouched: “and so death spread to all because all have sinned.” We are, slaves, slaves to sin and death. Victim and perpetrator — this is us. We are the old Adam and he is us.

The new Adam, that is Christ Jesus, comes into the midst of our enslavement to sin and death and he too comes as priest to take all of creation, every last mangled and death-kissed bit of it, up into his own obedient offering to the Father. In his own flesh, Jesus assumes and takes on our humanness and identifies with us fully in the decay of our sin, though he himself is without sin, because he does this in perfect unity with the Father. The prophet Isaiah writes that, “it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain,” (Is. 53:10). And Jesus was crushed as Isaiah continues: “He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity…he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities…he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people…although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth,” (Is. 53).

And Jesus did this not reluctantly but joyfully, as Jeff preached about last evening. Indeed, Jesus thirsts to do this. “I am thirsty,” he says from the cross. Thirsty for what? Thirsty to drink the cup that his Father had given him to drink (18:11). And notice also, Jesus does not passively die, the victim. No, “he bowed his head and gave up his spirit,” (19:30). He gave it up, his final priestly offering that brought all other offerings to an end. What we see here, is the priestly offering of the new Adam, the offering of himself and of the whole cosmos in himself back to the Father. The obedient offering of reciprocal love. The gift given, and received, and returned, eternally. And this love, unites God and man forever in an inseparable union. The new Adam brings to fulfillment what the old Adam was unable to. And so, at the beginning of our gospel reading this morning, Jesus willingly, joyfully, enters into the garden that holds for him certain death (18:1), in order to deliver us from Adam’s death in the first garden of paradise (Cyril of Alexandria).

Why? Love. “He was wounded for our transgression, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed,” (Is. 53:5). His wounds – our healing. His death – our life: “The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,” (Is. 53:11). “Therefore,” writes St. Paul, “just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous,” (Rom. 5:18-19). And this, like all things we receive from the hand of God, is a gift: “For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many,” (Rom. 5:15). This is why the death of Christ on the cross is a victory rather than a defeat, because in his death he subverts death and turns it on its head, trampling down death by his own death so that life and freedom might come bursting in. And so it was, the blood of Christ, the new Adam, as it dropped from the cross, washed away the sins of the buried one, the first Adam (Jerome). Thus, the words of St. Paul were fulfilled: “Awake, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light,” (Eph. 5:14).

If it is true that the life of God is hidden in the death of Jesus, then it is true that our life is hidden there also. What is required of you and I, then? Is it some effort, some further sacrifice? No! What is required of us is not something that we can do — salvation is not a matter of self-improvement. What is required of us is, in a sense, the end of our doing, the end of self-improvement—what is required of us is nothing less and nothing more than our own death, more specifically, our own death in Christ’s own death.

When Christ’s side is pierced two things flow out, water and blood. The water is the water of baptism. The Crucifixion is Christ’s glorious baptism and when we are baptized it is into Christ’s death on the cross, and our whole life is taken up into God’s whole life so that we no longer live but Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20) This is a matter of fact. Indeed, many early baptismals were in the shape of a cross. The blood that spills out is the blood of the New Covenant which was shed for “many for the forgiveness of sins”. This is the cup of wine which we share in the Eucharist. Christ’s blood, shed for us. And in consuming Christ’s broken body in the Eucharist we in all of our brokenness are taken up into Christ and become his body, broken and poured out for the world. And so, in baptism and the Eucharist Christ’s death is made present to us in a very real way, in such a way that you and I are gathered around the risen Jesus to form a community that is in the shape of the cross.

As we behold Christ lifted up on the cross here this morning, as we approach the cross shortly, would you come and die here with Christ, die here in Christ? Would we, like Jesus, lay down our wills and pick up the Cross and follow him? Would we give ourselves in sacrificial love for one another that we may be one? For this is the glory that the Father gave the Son and that the Son has shared with us, the glory of the Cross, the glory of total and utter unity of will between the Father and Son has been opened up to us that we too may lay down our wills and take up Christ’s.

May our common life increasingly be a testimony to the reality that in Jesus the old humanity, ruled as it was by sin and sin itself was taken and killed and buried in and with Jesus on the cross.

One person, Jesus Christ, has made an end of us as sinners and therefore has made an end of sin itself by going to death as the One who took our place. Let us live out of this new reality, and thus bear witness to Christ in the midst of a watching world. Amen.

***

Sermon was preached by Jonathan Turtle at St. Matthew’s Riverdale
on Good Friday, April 18th, 2014.

Lent 5A – Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice!” Psalm 130:1

Heavenly Father, I thank you that in your Son Christ Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, you have come bursting into the depths of our sin and death. Pour out your Spirit upon us, that we might live. Amen.

We know of no other life than one marked by pain and suffering. We are born, we live, we strive after things that we can never quite attain, we hurt others, we’re hurt by others, our loved ones fall sick, the economy crashes, we lose our money, our health, and in the end we die. All of us. Our life is but a breath. We began our Lenten journey on this note on Ash Wednesday: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The Ashes smudged on our foreheads, a visible reminder of our creatureliness. We were made, our lives are finite and hemmed in. The Christian life is no escape from this suffering. The hope of the Christian faith is not that we would get through life unscathed.

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice!” We are acquainted you and I, as is the Psalmist, with the depths. “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?” We know full-well the weight of sin and death even if our Modern ears sometimes have a hard time with the language of sin. Consider the prophet Ezekiel, brought out by the Spirit of the Lord and set down in the middle of a valley: “It was full of bones”. “He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry.” “Mortal, can these bones live?” “O Lord God, you know.” Consider Mary and Martha and their ill brother Lazarus. The sisters send a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” They were convinced that Jesus is not one who loves and then abandons those he loves. Yet, Jesus did not mention this request to his disciples nor did he send a message back to say, “We’re on our way.” For Christ, it was more important to conquer death than to cure disease. So, he stayed there, and Mary and Martha, in Bethany, watched their beloved brother die.

What was Jesus doing during those two days he waited? Perhaps he was praying, not only for Lazarus but for himself and the journey that lay ahead of him which was being prefigured in Lazarus’ own death. Perhaps, as some of the Church Fathers said, he was granting free reign to the grave, allowing the realm of darkness to seize his friend, drag him down to the underworld, and take possession of him (Peter Chrysologus).

Perhaps Jesus permits this so that human hope may perish entirely and human despair reach its lowest depths so that the deed he is about to accomplish may then clearly be seen to be the work of God, not of man.

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.” And when their hope was exhausted and their dead brother wrapped in burial clothes and laid in the tomb, the sisters again cried out to Jesus from the depths of their despair. When Martha heard that Jesus was on his way she ran out to meet him: “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” It is interesting to hear Martha’s words and observe her interaction with Jesus. At first glance, Martha’s proclamation of faith in light of her deep sense of grief and loss seems admirable. However, I can’t help but wonder if Martha was short-circuiting or denying the pain of losing her brother, the pain of human life. She mentions the loss but then refuses to stay there. It seems as if her proclamation of faith is an attempt to climb out of the depths herself. Contrast this with Mary who later runs out to meet Jesus. Her words are the same as Martha’s except Mary does not include the assertion of v22: “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died,” she cries as she falls at the feet of Jesus and weeps. Mary’s words to Jesus do not include Martha’s assertion because Mary’s words are exhausted with the grief of, “If only…”. “If only you had been here…”.

As Mary falls at Christ’s feet weeping, she illustrates what it is like to truly cry out to God from the depths: “Lord hear my voice!” I was overwhelmed this week by Jesus’ response to Mary. Does he try to fix the pain of her loss? Does he remove the pain with words of comfort and encouragement? He does not. Rather, when he saw her weeping, and saw those with her weeping, “he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved,” and he himself began to weep. I love N.T. Wright’s translation: “Jesus burst into tears.”

I suspect that you and I both are acquainted with the pain of, “If only…”. It’s a kind of nostalgia, not for the past as it was, but for the present that could have been, if only the past had been just a little bit different (N.T. Wright). If only my father hadn’t of left when I was so young; if only I hadn’t of lost my job when I did; if only I had of been able to carry my child to term; if only my wife’s health wasn’t so fragile; if only I hadn’t of spent so many hours at work when the kids were young. May we cry out to Christ Jesus from the depth of our pain and loss, from within the midst of the chaos and confusion and, when all of our striving and our grieving is drawn out and we come to the end of ourselves, may we know somehow the mystery that in Christ God is right there in the pain, in the darkness of the depths.

There is another, “If only…” perhaps more fundamental to our human experience. That is, the mystery of iniquity, the “If only…” of sin. This was Israel’s idolatry, their abandonment of God that left them cut off from God’s Spirit to become a valley of dry bones, void of life. This is what Paul in his letter to the Roman’s calls “the flesh”, which is hostile to God and when we set our minds on it is death (8:6, 7). And like Lazarus, this is the tomb in which we are trapped, death has come over us and the stench has filled the air. Yet just here Christ met Lazarus, and he has met us here also.

“Mortal, can these bones live?” Jesus weeps, he pours out his tears and in-so-doing pours out the Spirit of life. The tears of Jesus are the living water we heard about two weeks ago that the woman at the well was thirsting after. He takes the tears of Mary and Martha, and our tears, up into himself and pours them out with his own tears. His tears are like the rain, and Lazarus like a grain of wheat, and the tomb like the earth. Jesus gave forth a cry like that of thunder, and death trembled at his voice. Lazarus burst forth like a grain of wheat (Ephrem the Syrian). And Jesus wept out of compassion not just for Lazarus but for all humanity which is subject to sin and death (Cyril of Alexandria). And his weeping is active, it means that he is fighting for them, for us. On the way to the grave of Lazarus, as he wept with those who wept in the face of the undeniable reality of death, Jesus’ tears were themselves a resolute “No” to this reality. Looking death in the face, he is already on the way to banish it from the world (Karl Barth).

“He has borne our griefs,” said Isaiah, “and carried our sorrows,” (53:4, N.T. Wright’s translation). Jesus doesn’t sweep onto the scene and declare that tears are beside the point, that Lazarus is not dead, only asleep. Even though he has no doubt what he will do, and what his Father will do through him, there is no sense of triumphalism. There is, rather, the man of sorrows, acquainted with our grief and pain, sharing and bearing it to the point of tears (Wright). It is true also, that Jesus shed tears as he felt the weight of the journey that was to come, his own fate upon the cross. In telling the story of Lazarus John no doubt means to point us towards Jesus’ own death and resurrection, and in him our own.

I began by saying that we know of no other life than one marked by pain and suffering. This is true but it is incomplete for what we have witnessed this morning, and what we witness each and every time we gather around the Eucharist, or witness a baptism, is that Jesus, the storehouse that is full of life, enters into the midst of the tomb in which we find ourselves and calls us out. The sweet odour of his words cast out the stench of death.

In the words of the Psalmist, the Lord indeed hears our cry from the depths and in him there is forgiveness. And so we put our hope in the Lord for, “It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.” In the words of the prophet Ezekiel, Jesus is he that breathes upon the slain, that they may live. Or, as Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.” I say again, the hope of the Christian faith is not that we would get through life unscathed. Rather, the hope of the Christian life is that all of our wounds, all of our pain, all of the ways in which we are both victims of and perpetrators of sin and death, all of this is taken up into Christ’s own death and just there we find life.

Christ’s own death. In John’s gospel, when Jesus announces to his disciples that it is time for them to go and see Lazarus and his sisters, the disciples are initially taken aback: “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” (11:8). When they cannot dissuade him from going, Thomas reluctantly says to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him,” (11:16). Perhaps Thomas knew that it would not be possible to live with Jesus except by having died with him (Origen). Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem where he will die and on the way he demonstrates, in a very particular instance with the raising of Lazarus, the depth of God’s grace and love which is about to be opened to the whole world in Christ’s own death and resurrection. During this Lenten season we have been journeying with Jesus and the disciples along the way, knowing full-well where this journey ends: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” There is a great deal that we do not understand, and our hopes and plans often get thwarted. But if we go with Jesus, even if it’s into the jaws of death, we will be walking in the light, whereas if we press ahead with our own plans and ambitions we are bound to trip up (Wright).

Traditionally, Lent serves as a time of preparation for those who will be baptized during Easter. Perhaps you have been journeying with us here at St. Matthew’s for some time, or maybe you’re new, and have never been baptized. Hear the voice of Jesus, the resurrection and the life, who has entered into the depths of your despair and who stands now at the entrance of your tomb and calls you to come out! For those of us who are baptized, may this season call to memory what our baptism means: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again: death no longer has dominion over him…So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 6:3-9, 11). Let us therefore set our mind on the Spirit who is life and peace, the same Spirit that raised Christ Jesus from the dead and who dwells in us that we, like Lazarus, might be resurrected also. Amen.

***

Sermon was preached by Jonathan Turtle at St. Matthew’s Riverdale
on the fifth Sunday in Lent, April 6th, 2014.

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